NHRC chair called upon to look at Loktak fishermen rights

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IMPHAL, January 24: A press release from the All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen’s Union (ALLAFU) has said that its representatives along with those of the Centre for Organisation Research and Education, (CORE) met Justice KG Balkrishnan, National Human Rights Commission Chairman and former Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India on January 22 last regarding the grievances faced by the Phumdi dwellers of Loktak Lake. The delegation urged for immediate repeal of the Loktak Lake (Protection) Act 2006, in particular Article 19 and 20 of the said Act, which violates the Fundamental Rights of the citizens, it said.

Justice Balkrishnan informed the delegation that the state Director General of Police has been asked to investigate how the management of Loktak Lake has been taken over by K-PRO from the Loktak Development Authority and the same should be handed over to the Central Bureau of investigation (CBI).

The release mentioned that Kh Jibon Singh, Adviser of the two organizations apprised the NHRC Chairman Justice Balkrishnan that fishermen are often harassed under the provision of the Loktak Lake (Protection) Act 2006, which empowers the officers of the LDA to search and arrest without any notice or warrant. Jibon Singh stated that such an Act forfeits the dignity and liberty of the fishermen forcibly in complete contrast with the Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which says that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

The release further added that Justice Balkrishna informed the delegation that there is a case pending before the Gauhati Bench High Court that during the tendency of the writ petition in High Court, he could not direct anything till the disposal of the case. However, he made the statement that there cannot be any violation of human rights in Manipur. The delegation also submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar for immediate repeal of the Loktak Lake (Protection) Act 2006 to protect the basic rights of fishermen according to the release. 

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